Working in retail is like working in hell.
Anyone who works in retail will support this assertion.
If you work in the food service industry, you are in a deeper circle of hell than I, in which people send back the plate of food that they’ve already finished because it’s “not what I ordered” and ask for extra sides of ranch for no other reason than the fact that they feel better if there are at least twelve ounces of ranch within a five foot radius of their body at any given time. You win.
The retail world, however, has its own woes. Let me break down a few of the miseries I experience on a daily basis, and maybe, on your next shopping excursion, you will realize that your friendly sales associate would actually rather go all bath salts on your ass than dig through a perfectly folded pile for a size medium that you definitely cannot squeeze into.
Upon entering the store, I am obligated to greet you. “Hey there, how are you doing today?” could either be a genuine enquiry or a segue into informing you about the new merchandise we just put out. I’m not asking you to be my blood brother or to babysit my dog while I’m on vacation; I’m just asking a simple question. I may be small, but my vocal cords are mighty, and I know you heard me. Continuing past me as if I didn’t exist – much less asked you about your current state of being – is rude and automatically guarantees that I will tell you the least-flattering pair of shorts you try on “Looks great!” Take that, fat ass; all you had to do was say hi.
Now I happen to work in a store that specializes in jeans. We sell other shit too, but we are in the jeans business, and the well-made jeans business at that. Well-made, brand-name jeans are expensive. The jeans you bought at Old Navy that give you saggy Mom Butt and accentuate your fupa are the opposite of well-made and are falling apart for that reason. When you come up to me and ask, “Are these really $99?” and I reply with the affirmative, don’t look at me like I’m a founding father of the KKK. It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it, it’s not my fault. “Can you afford $100 jeans?” you ask me condescendingly. Fucking of course not, you moron, that’s why I work here and get the discount. If we had such a problem selling the jeans at their full price, this store probably wouldn’t be here and they would’ve replaced us with a Gymboree months ago. Quit yer bitchin and either try a pair on or get out of my way: I have board folding to do.
Side note: since I do work in a specialty-brand jeans store, the joke, “Do you guys sell jeans?” lost all of its hilarity about halfway through my first day. Just stop.
So let’s say the previous transactions have gone smoothly and you’ve agreed to try on a few styles in a fitting room. We’ve gone through the whole, “How do you like your jeans to fit? What size do you think we’re looking for? Do you prefer a boot leg or straight leg? Light wash or dark wash?” spiel, and you have about six pairs of jeans at your disposal. At this time, we’ve already spent a solid ten minutes together, and I feel like we’ve forged a decent bond. I know things about you that I don’t even know about my own family, and while I wait for you to show me how the next pair looks I strongly consider inviting you to my wedding and making your niece my flower girl. “What do you think?” I ask about the dark-wash slim-fit boot leg you’re modeling. “The fit is great, I really like these a lot!” you say enthusiastically. Hooray! Success! Good things! As I am anticipating the wave of achievement that can only be felt by swiping someone’s MasterCard for $150, you all of a sudden exit the fitting room, no jeans in hand, and say, “I think I’m gonna come back later. Thanks,” and out you go. The curses I utter as I return the jeans to their shelves are enough to shock Richard Pryor, and I can only hope every item of clothing you wear for the rest of your life either shrinks in the dryer or loses all of its elasticity and never fits the same EVER.
I actually really do enjoy my job – mostly because I work with some hilarious people and we all agree that being treated like shit by customers is more entertaining than degrading – but please keep in mind: if you’ve made the trip to the mall, you probably had at least half an intention of purchasing something. Being an asshole to me is completely unnecessary, and when I see you out in the real world, you will realize that we are, in fact, the same species. The only difference is, my jeans were 60% off, and no one lied to me about whether or not they hide my muffin top.